I gravitate between gratitude and looking longingly across the fence at the neighbor’s lawn, covetous, envious.
At any given moment, I might be feeling gladness in my heart for living to be nearly 59; the next second, I relapse, wishing I had worn braces so my teeth would be white, even, and graceful when I smile. I sit and watch ALS ice bucket challenge videos, including those which feature victims of the terrible disease, and thank God, the universe, and all powers of positive thinking that the disease which plagues me moves slowly and with halting starts. Then, I waken in the night with its symptoms raging and curse my fate.
I know how fortunate I have been, how blessed. At eighteen, a well-meaning doctor — actually, a cardiologist for whom my mother worked — opined that I would be bedridden by 25. At 40, another medical professional suggested that my psyche ruled my body and its vagaries would be my undoing. Two years later, still putting my best foot forward, I received a chilling prognosis: Sure to die in six months, pack your kid’s stuff, close your practice, film at eleven, ooh, ahh, ooh.
I’m still here. I get that. I broke my fast this morning with two sons whom I dearly love: One whom I bore, and one whom I borrowed, very different men but both so dear to my heart. They live separate lives, distant from each other but bonded by their shared connection with me. Over Panera’s breakfast, my stepson and my “birth” son laugh, talk of shows and movies that they both enjoy, and examine the coming junior year of the one, who describes himself as on the downhill slope of college. I mostly listen, smiling, happy, suddenly realizing that for all the weirdness of my late-life status, I find myself nonetheless surrounded by the greener grass.